Maryland requires all vehicles to be covered by liability insurance. This requirement is meant to ensure that all drivers and owners are able to financially compensate others for damages resulting from motor vehicle accidents. However, in a Maryland truck accident case, evidence of insurance of lack of insurance is not always permitted as evidence in a civil case. Under Maryland Rule of Evidence 5-411, evidence that a person was or was not insured is not admissible as evidence that a person acted negligently or wrongfully. Evidence of insurance can be admitted as evidence for another purpose, including proof of agency, control, ownership, or bias or prejudice of a witness. For example, evidence that a witness is insured by an insurance company might show that the witness has a potential bias. Evidence of insurance might also be relevant to the issue of whether a party was an employee or an independent contractor, which would impact liability in the case. A driver’s lack of insurance could also be relevant to the issue of whether a company negligently employed an individual to work as a driver.
Maryland’s rule is derived from Federal Rule of Evidence 411. It is meant to prevent unfair prejudice because a jury might infer that a party was at fault based on the party’s lack of insurance. A jury might also infer that a party was not at fault based on the party’s proof of insurance. Even if evidence of insurance or lack of insurance is admissible for another purpose, it may still be excluded on another basis. For example, evidence of a lack of insurance may be unfairly prejudicial and a court might still exclude it. A court has discretion to admit or exclude evidence when it is not prohibited by Rule 5-411. Maryland Rules 5-402 and 5-403 state that evidence that is not relevant is not admissible and that relevant evidence may still be excluded if the probative value is “substantially outweighed by the danger of unfair prejudice, confusion of the issues, or misleading the jury.”
Woman Killed in Recent Truck Accident